WEC - 6 Hours of Fuji – Interview with Ford’s Andy Priaulx

12.10.17

Ford GT drivers Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell arrive in Japan for the 6 Hours of Fuji on Sunday 15 October leading the GT FIA World Endurance Driver’s Championship. 

The two British drivers won their first race for the American manufacturer at the 2016 6 Hours of Fuji, leading home a Ford 1-2, and will be hoping for a similar performance this year in Round 7 of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship.

Priaulx is also a three time FIA World Champion, having won the FIA World Touring Car Championship title with BMW in 2005, 2006 and 2007, so the British driver knows very well what it means to be called a world champion.

We caught up with Andy Priaulx as he prepared for the 6 Hours of Fuji.

Q: You are still leading the World Endurance Driver’s Championship after the first six races.  How would you sum up your season so far?

“It’s been a brilliant season for us.  We had a great start winning at Silverstone and had a strong Le Mans, finishing second. We’ve been in the mix with some solid fourth places.  The last two races have been tough for us, so hopefully Fuji will be better.”

Q: Last year Fuji was a good event for Ford with a 1-2 in qualifying and a 1-2 in the race, with you and Harry winning your first race for Ford.  Do you expect to be as strong here in Japan in 2017?

“It’s a track that suits us, that’s for sure. I think everything’s a lot closer this year; in fact, if anything, we are on the back foot with our current performance in the last two races. So we come here with a little bit of an unknown expectation but the track suits the car, the Ford GT is brilliant in the high speed corners, and there a lot of them here.  I think it is a really great circuit, so our fingers are crossed for this race.”

Q: This year the GTE class is now a full FIA World Championship in its own right.  As someone who has won multiple FIA World titles, is this distinction an important one for you as a driver and for Ford as a manufacturer?

“Winning another world championship for me would be amazing.  To have four titles to my name would be a dream come true.  Also for Ford and the Ford GT to be a world championship winning car would give great credibility.  So we have it all to go for and one thing I have learned is that in motor racing nothing is every given to you.  We have three very big races ahead of us.  We need to finish the season off as we started.”

Q: Next year BMW will join the ranks of the WEC, with the M8 GTE unveiled last month. As a former BMW works driver, who knows how the team approaches a new challenge, how competitive are you expecting them to be in 2018?

“I know they will be competitive one hundred percent.  They are super professional, they build great cars and the WEC and GT regulations don’t allow anyone to be a lot faster than anybody else.  So they are going to be there and very competitive and I am really looking forward to racing against them.”

Q: Coming back to this weekend’s race, what is your favourite part of the 4.5km Fuji track?

“It’s just a superb circuit. For me it is the fast flowing turn three where very high commitment is required on the way in.  It’s a very difficult corner in a GT car because the car is still relying on some mechanical grip, it’s not all aero. So it goes from high aero grip to low grip and with the change of direction on the exit.  It is challenging section that I enjoy a lot.”